Cytokines are a small protein released by cells in order for cells to communicate with one another. Cytokines are secreted mainly by cells in the immune system to regulate inflammation, immunity, and other bodily responses.
During some severe immune reactions, the body may sometimes release too many cytokines into the blood too quickly. This is what’s known as a “cytokine storm,” or hypercytokinemia. While cytokines play an important role in the immune system and are necessary for good health, having too many of them released into the body all at once can be harmful.
Typically a cytokine storm is a result of some other immune-disrupting activity in the body. Storms can be caused by infections, autoimmune conditions, or other diseases. Cytokine storms may also occur after treatment with some types of immunotherapy.
There has been a renewed interest in cytokine storms emerging from the ongoing pandemic. This is because the main health issues and reactions of the virus are not actually brought on by the virus itself, but by our bodies' excessive immunological response to the infected organs - a.k.a. the cytokine storm.
Cytokine Storm Symptoms
Wondering if you have, or have ever experienced a cytokine storm? There are a few common symptoms to be aware of.
Symptoms of Cytokine Storms may include:
- High fever
- Inflammation (redness and swelling)
- Severe fatigue
- Organ failure (only in very extreme cases)
Cytokine Storms - Natural Solutions
All this talk of cytokine storms can sound overwhelming and slightly scary, but there’s no need to fear. In fact, there are a few simple, natural solutions to control and prevent cytokine storms, including everything from dietary choices to immuno-modulating herbs. We’ll dive into these options below.
When it comes to dietary support for cytokine storms, the key factors to look for are foods that have been proven to reduce NRLP3 and Nuclear Factor Kappa B activity, as these are the initial inflammasomes in the cytokine chain reaction that ultimately leads to a cytokine storm.
Some of the compounds capable of this are:
- Quercitin: found in apples and onions
- Resveratrol: found in red grapes and blueberries
- Curcumin: found in turmeric
- Allicin: found in garlic
- Sulforaphane: found in cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, etc)
Other foods shown to reduce Nuclear Factor Kappa B activity, and inflammation in general, are healthy fats like olive oil and the essential fatty acids found in fish. Including more of these healthy foods in your diet may help support lower inflammation levels, and thus a healthier immune response.
In addition to the foods mentioned above, several herbs have been shown to have immuno-modulating effects, meaning they may help support the health of the immune system over time. Additionally, many of these herbs are very high in some of the compounds mentioned above, making them effective supplements for supporting healthier inflammation levels in the body.
Some of these herbs include:
- Rhodiola (immune regulation, reduce cortisol/stress response)
- Japanese knotweed (high in resveratrol)
- Astragalus (gentle immuno-modulating effects)
- Baikal Skullcap (anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, immunoprotective effects)
Where to Find These Herbs
In order to effectively use these herbs, it’s important to consume them as a potent extract. Simply consuming the raw herb isn’t advisable for reasons of bioavailability and digestion. Astragalus, for example, would need to be “decocted” in order for the beneficial compounds to be extracted - usually this means heating the herb in hot or boiling water for hours at a time to gently extract the medicinal compounds.
At Samsara Herbs, we do the hard work for you, and have developed an immune formula composed of potent, bio-available extracts of all the herbs above, in addition to many others that are helpful in supporting the immune system.
Our Herba-V formula includes:
- Salvia milthiorrhiza root extract
- Baikal skullcap root extract
- Licorice root extract
- Lycoris Radiata aerial parts extract
- Japanese knotweed root (20% resveratrol)
- Astragalus root extract
- Isatis root extract
- Rhodiola Rosea root extract
- Kudzu root extract
- Boneset aerial parts extract
- Bidens pilosa aerial parts extract
- Ceanothus americanus root extract
- Atractylodes root extract
- Siler root extract
- Perilla aerial parts extract
- Forsythia aerial parts extract
- Sophora flavescens root (Oxymatrine extract)
- Monk fruit (20% glycoside)
These herbs have a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for supporting immune health in relation to the respiratory system, especially when the immune system is under stress.
Cytokine storms sound scary, but as we've discussed, there are a few simple things you can incorporate into your lifestyle to control and prevent them naturally. First, try incorporating some of the foods mentioned above that have been shown to reduce the inflammatory compounds that can trigger a cytokine storm. If you need to take things to the next level, you can try incorporating immuno-modulating herbs, like those found in our Herba-V formula.